Friday, September 23, 2011

Sarah Diantha Gardner Curtis

Sarah Gardner was born in Payson Utah on September 9, 1852.  Sarah was called Sadie.  She matured into a caring woman and was called as the first counselor in the Relief Society when she was only fifteen years old and she held the position for twelve years.  When only sixteen years old, Sadie became a school teacher.  One of the first school teachers in Payson.

The Lyman Curtis family lived in nearby Pondtown (now called Salem).  This is where Sadie met Joseph Nahum Curtis, who was called Dode.  They enjoyed parties and dances, dancing the popular round dances (waltzes) of the day, which her father frowned upon.  They dated each other for over two years and when Dode asked Sadie's father for her hand in marriage, he at first said no. But he finally consented and they were married in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on January 17, 1870.  Sadie was eighteen and Dode was 24.

The endowment house was located on the northwest corner of the temple block in Salt Lake City.  The endowment house served as a tempory temple for church members in Utah Territory from 1855-1889.  The building was razed in 1889, four years prior to the completion of the Salt Lake Temple.

Endowment House in Salt Lake City

Dode built a fine adobe house in Salem, Utah and they settled down.  Sadie was sustained as the first Primary President of the Salem Ward, being selected by Sister Eliza R. Snow, who came to introduce the newest auxiliary, the Primary Association.

The 1880 U.S. Federal Census shows Sarah living in Utah as a 27 year old wife, keeping house.  The next household lists Sarah's mother Diantha and Sarah's 17 year old younger sister Marilla.  Sarah's mother Diantha was the 4th of 8 wives of Elias Gardner, so I assume that he is not listed as part of the household because he was residing with one of his other wives.

1880 U.S. Federal Census

In the last year of President Brigham Young's life, he called Dode and his family to move to St. David on the San Pedro River in Southern Arizona.  They accepted the call from the prophet.  Sadie's younger sister, Marilla wanted to become a pioneer with them, but her father would not let her go unless she was married.  Polygamy was being practiced at the time, so Dode took Marilla as his second wife and they moved to Arizona.  They established a ranch south of St. David.  Sadie was well acquainted with most of the historic people of this rough town, including Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and others.  Many children came into their family.  Sadie gave birth to twelve children and some they just took in and raised as their own.

Sadie and Dode were very active in the church.  Sadie was sustained as the first Relief Society President of her ward.  Marilla became ill after the birth of her fifth baby and never recovered, passing away during 1891.  Sadie took Mil's five children as her own.

The 1910 U.S. Federal Census shows Dode and Sarah and their children living in Arizona.

1910 U.S. Federal Census

Sadie and Dode

I became aware of a book written about Sarah Diantha Gardner Curtis that was published in 1967.  The book is called Life is a Fulfilling.  The Story of a Mormon Pioneer Woman -- Sarah Diantha Garder Curtis.  It was written by Olive Kimball Mitchell who is a Grand daughter of Sarah, and was a BYU English Professor.  It is out of print, but I was able to purchase a copy of the book on the Internet.  I am so happy that I was able to get this rare book about this great woman.

Dode passed away in 1925 and Sadie went on to live until she was almost 90.  When she became frail, she went to Tucson to live with a daughter.  She died there on April 2, 1942. 

Sarah Diantha Gardner Curtis Death Certificate

Sarah Diantha Gardner Curtis is buried in St. David, Arizona next to her husband Dode and her sister Marilla.  The coordinates of the cemetery are N 31° 51.971 W 110° 12.352. Sarah is my 2nd Great Grandmother on the Goodman Side of the family. 

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